Friday, December 10, 2004


"Als Gregor Samsa eines Morgens aus unruhigen Träumen erwachte, fand er sich in seinem Bett zu einem ungeheueren Ungeziefer verwandelt." --Franz Kafka, "Die Verwandlung"

As Liberalismus awoke one morning from unlikely dreams about Presidential condiments, he found himself transformed in his bed into a very small donkey. Later, learned paleontologists would claim that random quantum leaps had spontaneously mutated his genes to those of a missing link in evolution, the long-sought "Eoasinus". Creation scientists of course denied that any such fabulous quadruped had ever existed, and suggested the change was due to drug-crazed lesbian witches. That view was somewhat closer to the truth. Liberalismus had really been transformed without his knowledge by an American Goddess named Media, who had been, like Merlin enchanted by Morgan Le Fay, manipulated by a mighty warlock named Wurlitzer.

What has happened to me? he brayed to himself. It was no dream. His room, a regular public housing bedroom, and therefore rather too small, lay quiet within its four familiar walls. Above the table on which a collection of campaign literature was unpacked and spread out -- Liberalismus was a Democratic political consultant -- hung the picture which he had recently gotten autographed and put into a pretty gilt frame. It showed the present junior Senator from New York, with a fur hat and thick asbestos gloves, standing and holding out to The Clenis a huge unread Bible, on which he hesitatingly laid his hand to take his inaugural oath. "Dear Lib," her inscription read, "Thanks for your help -- Sorry he had to track right -- You can count on me next time, for sure!!" Liberalismus had no idea that his continuing belief in such broken promises caused people to call him "Charlie Brown" behind his back.

There was a cautious tap at the door near the head of his bed. "Lib," said a voice -- it was Minderheit, his mother's -- "it's a quarter to seven. Didn't you have a bandwagon to catch?" That gentle voice! Liberalismus had a shock as he heard his own voice answering hers, and confined himself to saying: "Yes, yes, thank you, Mother, I'm getting up now." At one of the side doors his father Arbeiterklasse was already knocking, gently, yet with his fist. "Lib, Lib," he called, "What's the matter with you?" At the other side door he fancied he heard his sister Gerechtigkeit saying in a low, plaintive tone: "Lib? Aren't you well? Do you need anything?" He answered them both at once: "I'm just about ready," and did his best to make his voice sound as normal as possible.

"Liberalismus," said his father said later from the room on the left, "the Minority Leader has come and wants to know why you didn't catch the early bandwagon. We don't know what to say to him. Besides, he wants to talk to you in person. So open the door, please." "Good morning, Lib," Harry, the Minority Leader, was calling amiably meanwhile. "He's not well," said his mother to the visitor, while his father was still speaking through the door, "he's not well, sir, believe me. What else would make him miss a bandwagon! The boy thinks about nothing but his work." "Well, can the Minority Leader come in now?" asked Lib’s father impatiently, again knocking on the door. "No," said Liberalismus. In the left-hand room a painful silence followed this refusal; in the right-hand room his sister began to sob.

"Mr. Liberalismus," the Minority Leader called now in a louder voice, "what's the matter with you? Here you are, barricading yourself in your room, and neglecting your political duties in an incredible fashion. Attorney General Gonzales did hint to me early this morning a possible explanation for your disappearance -- with reference to the online campaign contributions that were entrusted to you recently. Your position in the party is not exactly unassailable. I came with the intention of telling you all this in private, but since you are wasting my time so needlessly I don't see why your parents shouldn't hear it too. For some time now your bitter opposition to the President has been most unsatisfactory; this is not the best electoral climate within the party for celebrating his mandate, of course, we admit that, but a time for never supporting him at all, that does not exist, Mr. Liberalismus, must not exist. Alberto reminded me that there are still vacancies available at our Navy's resort camp on the south coast of Cuba, if you need to retreat for a while and reeducate yourself."

When Lib awkwardly opened the door with his hooves, the Minority Leader saw him and uttered a loud "Oh!", clapping one hand over his open mouth and slowly backing away, then fleeing out the door to the other side of the street. His mother fell on the floor among her outspread skirts. Unfortunately, the flight of the Minority Leader seemed completely to unhinge Liberalismus's father, who covered his eyes with his hands, and wept until his great chest heaved, then snatched in his left hand a Democratic Leadership Council newsletter from the table, and began flourishing it and stamping his feet to drive Lib back into his room. The door was slammed behind him, and then at last there was silence.

For two whole days there were family consultations at every mealtime about what should be done. Finally Arbeiterklasse said they must call in professional help. He read them a classified ad from the New Dem Daily: "Rabbi Lieberman -- Available for weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals, premature burials, and leftist exorcisms." Minderheit agreed, but added nervously, "We must keep his sister out of sight when the man comes, Papa. Remember when Herr Professor Doctor Kaufmann said that she was just Lib's imaginary playmate -- that Gerechtigkeit does not really exist."

When the Leftorcist arrived he expressed horror at Lib's appearance, saying "This monster will frighten every respectable person who sees it, and make your family social outcasts. To lift this burden from your shoulders, you need to feed him the new wonder drug, Weiches Geld. He will become more and more dependent upon it, until it finally blocks up his bowels and rots, and he passes away from intestinal atrophy." That night they began adding paper-thin sheets of it to his trough. Within a short time, while still he thought of his family with tenderness and love, there came from his nostrils the last faint flicker of his breath. The family housekeeper, Bernardine Kerik, announced that she had disposed of the corpse.

Then the family left the apartment together, which was more than they had done for months, and took the streetcar to the red country outside of the city. The car, in which they were the only passengers, was filled with warm sunshine. Leaning comfortably back in their seats the parents talked over their prospects for the future, and it appeared on closer inspection that these were not at all bad, for as Arbeiterklasse said, they could now provide for Gerechtigkeit all the better without that parasitical Liberalismus leeching off of them. They smiled at their pretty daughter.

The driver of the streetcar to the country, Herr From, raised his eyebrows scornfully when he saw the two in his rear-view mirror staring at the empty seat between them, for of course Dr. Kaufmann's theory had been right about Gerechtigkeit, though that was not proven to the world until Professor Urosevich's demonstration at the great eclipse of 2004. Even then, no one was cruel enough to point out to Liberalismus's grieving parents that this also proved the equally imaginary status of the two infants they believed their unmarried daughter had been forced to give up for adoption, Frieden and Freiheit.

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